On July 15th Lufthansa became the world’s first airline to use biofuels on a regularly scheduled commercial flight, and plan on continuing to do so over a six month trial period. The biofuel in question is a mix of jatropha, camelina crops and animal fats made by a Finnish energy company called Neste Oil. The ingredients are not edible to humans and can grow in inhospitable agriculture environments, thereby avoiding being in direct competition with food production.
Lufthansa chose regular domestic flights between Hamburg to Frankfurt for its test route, using an Airbus A321 with a mix of biofuel and standard jetfuel.
There is, however, an ongoing debate on how “green” biofuel actually is. Opponents say it exacerbates poverty, drives land grabbing and deforestation and remains otherwise contrary to claims of a perfectly environmentally-friendly fuel.
But for whatever the backlash, biofuel is still significantly better than traditional fossil-fuel based jetfuel, greatly reducing CO2 and carbon emissions and paving the way for future efforts to make airplanes less toxic to our world.
Biofuel is about 60-70% more expensive than regular jet fuel so congrats to Lufthansa for seeing beyond the bottom line and being a pioneer in the movement for environmentally sustainable air travel.